NORMAN, OK - One hundred years ago, Wilbur and Orville Wright made their historic first flight from Kill Devil Hill, just south of Kitty Hawk, N.C. The First Flight Centennial Foundation is preparing to mark the occasion with a weeklong celebration featuring events, exhibits, shows and festivities Dec. 12 to Dec. 17, culminating in a re-enactment of the 12-second 1903 flight on Dec. 17.

To accommodate the more than four million people who are expected to visit the site over the next five years, the foundation erected a semi-permanent clearspan structure at the foot of Kill Devil Hill. The three tent-like structures that comprise the 20,000-square-foot First Flight Centennial Pavilion house interpretive and educational exhibits and provide a venue for speakers and aviation-themed activities during the celebratory events in 2003 and beyond.

The First Flight Centennial Foundation selected York products to cool the First Flight Centennial Pavilion at the Wright Brothers Memorial.

Challenging Application

Initially, the high-strength, aluminum-framed structure challenged the firm charged with providing heating and cooling to the pavilion. Joe Simpson, president of All Seasons Heating and Air Conditioning, Harbinger, N.C., recalled, "We'd never worked on a structure quite like this before. It resembled three large tents, connected to one another and secured to a concrete floor and foundation. We had no idea how much air conditioning it would require because we had no way of knowing how airtight the tents would be."

As a York Heating and Air Conditioning dealer, Simpson turned to York distributor Virginia Air Distributors Inc., Chesapeake, Va., for assistance.

"With their help we were able to assign a load range of 80 tons to the project based on the number of people expected to occupy the space, the anticipation of moderate air infiltration, and the outdoor air requirements," Simpson said.

Simpson and his team then selected two 12-1/2 -ton and one 10-ton York Predator™ convertible, single-package heat pumps and three 15-ton York Sunline Ultra® single-package units to provide year-round comfort and humidity control throughout the pavilion.

"These units have a proven track record with us," said Simpson. "They are friendly to the service technician and easy to maintain. In a coastal environment like this one, maintenance is a very important consideration when selecting equipment."

The standard Predator units offer a minimum Energy Efficiency Rating (EER) of 9.0, while the high-efficiency units reach 11.5 EER. Units like the ones installed at Kill Devil Hill are equipped with electronic spark ignition and power-vented combustion capable of delivering Steady State Efficiencies of 80 percent.

According to Simpson, the HVAC system faces some challenging conditions. "The 8,000-square-foot exhibit hall features a 60-foot-wide airplane hangar door at one end to allow aircraft to be brought into the hall for display. As you can imagine, when that door is open, even for a short period of time, the temperature and humidity levels throughout the building are impacted, often for as long as 24 hours.

"Outside temperatures also present a challenge. On the one hand, we need substantial amounts of outside air to maintain a positive pressure situation inside the building. However, this area sees temperatures in the summer that reach 97 degrees and humidity levels of 80 percent. Because the exhibit houses humidity-sensitive articles, it is extremely important that the heating and cooling system adjust to combat the influence of outside air conditions."

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Publication date: 12/15/2003